If I made a list of famous people in the world that I even come close to obsessing over, I could probably count that list on one hand.
As a writer, nobody has had a bigger influence on me than Neil Gaiman. And not a lot of writers in todays world achieve ‘rock star’ status, but Neil is one. So when I heard that, to promote his new short story collection Trigger Warning, he would be doing an exclusive signing at which ever independent bookstore could sell the most copies of his novel The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, I never imagined that Old Firehouse Books in nearby Fort Collins Colorado would be the winner, out of all the indie bookstores, in all the cities, in all the country.
Surprise! They did.
Now this is no release of a new Star Wars movie, and people weren’t lining up 9 hours before the event started… oh, hang on; they did. The signing started at 4 in the afternoon, the line was already taking up 5 blocks of downtown Fort Collins, and I waited until well past 1 AM. And since it was a nice day that day, I was wearing short sleeves. Hah! Joke’s on you Dylan! As soon as the sun went down (and stayed down) it was… … cold. Waiting for that long in the cold can mess with a persons state of mind. At first I, and my new comrades in survival, were thrilled at the prospect of meeting Neil. But by the end, we just wanted it all to end.
What was once Delight had now turned to Delirium.
But the big question: what about the man himself? What does one say when meeting one’s heroes? “Mr Gaiman, as a writer you are my biggest influence, and it is an honor and a privilege to be in your presence, and I realize that after almost 10 hours and what ended up being over 2000 people you are unlikely to remember anything I say, but I simply had to say it.” In my head I came up with many variations of how to say this, and a great deal of other off-topic things I could say to him. But I have never been good at instigating conversation in any situation, even with people I know personally and in times when I’m not delirious with sleep deprivation and dehydration.
So in the end, I said nothing to him. A move (or lack thereof) that I will likely regret for awhile. But in retrospect, it seems likely that, given my delirium, I would’ve regretted anything I did come up with to say more.
Discomfort, both physically or otherwise, can often cause the most interesting stories. And in the future, I will still be willing to suffer great physical discomfort for the chance to meet Neil Gaiman.
Thank you for not believing.